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Born Kennedy William Gordy, Rockwell is the son of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy. He changed his name so as to avoid charges of nepotism, wanting to make it in the music business on his talent alone, and he signed to Motown as a solo artist without his father's knowledge. His first single, "Somebody's Watching Me," which featured backing vocals from both Michael and Jermaine Jackson, was released in 1983, shot into the Top Ten, peaked at number two on Billboard's Hot 100, and went gold. His identity was eventually revealed. This, however, was his peak of success. The follow-up single, "Obscene Phone Caller," fizzled. Neither Captured (1985) nor The Genie (1986) fared well commercially, and Rockwell subsequently left the industry.